Pollyanna had been at home about a week when the letter from Della Wetherb_ame to Mrs. Chilton.
"I wish I could make you see what your little niece has done for my sister,"
wrote Miss Wetherby; "but I'm afraid I can't. You would have to know what sh_as before. You did see her, to be sure, and perhaps you saw something of th_ush and gloom in which she has shrouded herself for so many years. But yo_an have no conception of her bitterness of heart, her lack of aim an_nterest, her insistence upon eternal mourning.
"Then came Pollyanna. Probably I didn't tell you, but my sister regretted he_romise to take the child, almost the minute it was given; and she made th_tern stipulation that the moment Pollyanna began to preach, back she shoul_ome to me. Well, she hasn't preached—at least, my sister says she hasn't; an_y sister ought to know. And yet—well, just let me tell you what I found whe_ went to see her yesterday. Perhaps nothing else could give you a better ide_f what that wonderful little Pollyanna of yours has accomplished.
"To begin with, as I approached the house, I saw that nearly all the shade_ere up: they used to be down—'way down to the sill. The minute I stepped int_he hall I heard music—Parsifal. The drawing-rooms were open, and the air wa_weet with roses.
"'Mrs. Carew and Master Jamie are in the music-room,' said the maid. And ther_ found them—my sister, and the youth she has taken into her home, listenin_o one of those modern contrivances that can hold an entire opera company,
including the orchestra.
"The boy was in a wheel chair. He was pale, but plainly beatifically happy. M_ister looked ten years younger. Her usually colorless cheeks showed a fain_ink, and her eyes glowed and sparkled. A little later, after I had talked _ew minutes with the boy, my sister and I went up-stairs to her own rooms; an_here she talked to me—of Jamie. Not of the old Jamie, as she used to, wit_ear-wet eyes and hopeless sighs, but of the new Jamie—and there were no sigh_or tears now. There was, instead, the eagerness of enthusiastic interest.
"'Della, he's wonderful,' she began. 'Everything that is best in music, art,
and literature seems to appeal to him in a perfectly marvelous fashion, only,
of course, he needs development and training. That's what I'm going to se_hat he gets. A tutor is coming to-morrow. Of course his language is somethin_wful; at the same time, he has read so many good books that his vocabulary i_uite amazing—and you should hear the stories he can reel off! Of course i_eneral education he is very deficient; but he's eager to learn, so that wil_oon be remedied. He loves music, and I shall give him what training in tha_e wishes. I have already put in a stock of carefully selected records. I wis_ou could have seen his face when he first heard that Holy Grail music. H_nows all about King Arthur and his Round Table, and he prattles of knight_nd lords and ladies as you and I do of the members of our own family—onl_ometimes I don't know whether his Sir Lancelot means the ancient knight or _quirrel in the Public Garden. And, Della, I believe he can be made to walk.
I'm going to have Dr. Ames see him, anyway, and—'
"And so on and on she talked, while I sat amazed and tongue-tied, but, oh, s_appy! I tell you all this, dear Mrs. Chilton, so you can see for yourself ho_nterested she is, how eagerly she is going to watch this boy's growth an_evelopment, and how, in spite of herself, it is all going to change he_ttitude toward life. She CAN'T do what she is doing for this boy, Jamie, an_ot do for herself at the same time. Never again, I believe, will she be th_oured, morose woman she was before. And it's all because of Pollyanna.
"Pollyanna! Dear child—and the best part of it is, she is so unconscious o_he whole thing. I don't believe even my sister yet quite realizes what i_aking place within her own heart and life, and certainly Pollyann_oesn't—least of all does she realize the part she played in the change.
"And now, dear Mrs. Chilton, how can I thank you? I know I can't; so I'm no_ven going to try. Yet in your heart I believe you know how grateful I am t_oth you and Pollyanna.
"Well, it seems to have worked a cure, all right," smiled Dr. Chilton, whe_is wife had finished reading the letter to him.
To his surprise she lifted a quick, remonstrative hand.
"Thomas, don't, please!" she begged.
"Why, Polly, what's the matter? Aren't you glad that—that the medicin_orked?"
Mrs. Chilton dropped despairingly back in her chair.
"There you go again, Thomas," she sighed. "Of COURSE I'm glad that thi_isguided woman has forsaken the error of her ways and found that she can b_f use to some one. And of course I'm glad that Pollyanna did it. But I am no_lad to have that child continually spoken of as if she were a—a bottle o_edicine, or a 'cure.' Don't you see?"
"Nonsense! After all, where's the harm? I've called Pollyanna a tonic eve_ince I knew her."
"Harm! Thomas Chilton, that child is growing older every day. Do you want t_poil her? Thus far she has been utterly unconscious of her extraordinar_ower. And therein lies the secret of her success. The minute she CONSCIOUSL_ets herself to reform somebody, you know as well as I do that she will b_imply impossible. Consequently, Heaven forbid that she ever gets it into he_ead that she's anything like a cure-all for poor, sick, suffering humanity."
"Nonsense! I wouldn't worry," laughed the doctor.
"But I do worry, Thomas."
"But, Polly, think of what she's done," argued the doctor. "Think of Mrs. Sno_nd John Pendleton, and quantities of others—why, they're not the same peopl_t all that they used to be, any more than Mrs. Carew is. And Pollyanna did d_t—bless her heart!"
"I know she did," nodded Mrs. Polly Chilton, emphatically. "But I don't wan_ollyanna to know she did it! Oh, of course she knows it, in a way. She know_he taught them to play the glad game with her, and that they are lots happie_n consequence. And that's all right. It's a game—HER game, and they'r_laying it together. To you I will admit that Pollyanna has preached to us on_f the most powerful sermons I ever heard; but the minute SHE knows it—well, _on't want her to. That's all. And right now let me tell you that I've decide_hat I will go to Germany with you this fall. At first I thought I wouldn't. _idn't want to leave Pollyanna—and I'm not going to leave her now. I'm goin_o take her with me."
"Take her with us? Good! Why not?"
"I've got to. That's all. Furthermore, I should be glad to plan to stay a fe_ears, just as you said you'd like to. I want to get Pollyanna away, quit_way from Beldingsville for a while. I'd like to keep her sweet and unspoiled,
if I can. And she shall not get silly notions into her head if I can hel_yself. Why, Thomas Chilton, do we want that child made an insufferable littl_rig?"
"We certainly don't," laughed the doctor. "But, for that matter, I don'_elieve anything or anybody could make her so. However, this Germany ide_uits me to a T. You know I didn't want to come away when I did—if it hadn'_een for Pollyanna. So the sooner we get back there the better I'm satisfied.
And I'd like to stay—for a little practice, as well as study."
"Then that's settled." And Aunt Polly gave a satisfied sigh.